Aug 30, 2023 - Economy

Former NYT, BBC exec Mark Thompson to lead CNN

Mark Thompson will start as chairman and CEO of CNN on Oct. 9. Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) on Wednesday announced that former New York Times and BBC executive Mark Thompson will lead CNN as the network's new worldwide chairman and CEO.

Why it matters: The appointment ends a period of uncertainty and brings new leadership to the network at a critical time.

  • CNN has been led by four leaders for the past few months, while Warner Bros. Discovery leaders searched for a new CEO to replace Chris Licht, who was fired in June.
  • The company's linear TV business, while still massively profitable, faces decline as cord-cutting increases. Its digital trajectory, for now, is tied to its parent company's streaming efforts.

In a note to staff, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav acknowledged the challenges presented to staffers by the leadership changes.

  • "I want to say that I recognize change is not easy, and I know you've been through a lot of it," Zaslav wrote. "Big thanks to all of you for your patience, commitment, and hard work. Simply stated: the real strength of CNN is its people, and you continue to set the highest standard in all that you do."

Details: Thompson will start on Oct. 9 and will report directly to Zaslav, WBD said in a statement.

  • CNN's interim leaders — longtime Discovery executive David Leavy, executive vice president for talent and content development Amy Entelis; executive vice president of editorial Virginia Moseley and executive vice president of U.S. programming Eric Sherling, will continue in their functional roles, reporting to Thompson, per the statement.

In a note to staff, Zaslav said he is confident Thompson "is exactly the leader we need to take the helm of CNN at this pivotal time."

Between the lines: Thompson brings a wealth of operational experience to CNN, Axios has reported.

  • Thompson began his career at the BBC in 1979 as a production trainee and worked his way up at the company until he was named director-general in 2004.
  • He remained with the BBC until 2012, when he was named president and CEO of The New York Times Company.
  • Thompson is credited with transforming The Times from a print-first advertising business to a digital-first subscription business alongside his successor, Meredith Kopit Levien, who he hired in 2013.

What he's saying: "The world needs accurate trustworthy news now more than ever and we've never had more ways of meeting that need at home and abroad," Thompson said in a statement.

  • "Where others see disruption, I see opportunity."

Disclosure: The author of this story is a paid contributor for CNN.

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